Have you ever heard someone say something along the lines of, “Of course we have free will! God tells us to choose & believe in His word!” To them, it logically follows that, if God asks us to do it, then we must be able to. After all, God wouldn’t ask us to do something we can’t do. Right?
On the surface, this argument may seem like a silver bullet. If you’ve never given thought to this, then such a question might leave you stumped. So let’s think about this. Does it follow that if God asks us to do something, then we must have the capacity to? Actually, no it doesn’t. Let’s look at what Scripture says about the law of God.
The law, given through Moses, is impossible to keep. In fact, the law only gives strength to our sins. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;” (1 Cor. 15:56). When the law is presented to us, we unquestionably stand condemned – dead men without any excuse. “8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.” (Romans 7:8-11). [underline for emphasis] And yet, in the law, God is telling us to do or not to do certain things. Only, we can’t do it.
Someone might say, “Well, we may not keep the law perfectly, but we can keep it to a certain degree just as our faith isn’t perfect.”
Firstly, God doesn’t ask for a good college try. He commands the law to be kept perfectly. It would be like saying, “Yeah, the law of the USA says not to kill. I don’t kill every single day… maybe about once every 3 years.” Breaking the law is breaking the law. One murder makes you a murderer.
Secondly, Scripture tells us that when you break one of God’s laws, you are guilty of breaking the whole law. “10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” (James 2:10-11). [underline for emphasis]
The Bible is clear that is is impossible to please God without faith (Heb. 11:6). With this in mind, let’s see what Scripture says about “natural man” – that is, man “pre-faith”.
6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:6-8)
Those who are in the flesh aren’t said to be ‘neutral’ to God, but hostile. Sure, they may not wake up and curse Christ every morning, but they ultimately want nothing to do with being confronted with their sins and needing Christ to be the propitiation for that sin. They may say they “love God” or “seek truth” but it isn’t the truth of the true God.
Perhaps one of the most confusing of the various free will perspectives is the prevenient grace (or grace before) view. It espouses that it is true that mankind is born dead in trespasses and sins, but the Spirit of God brings everyone to a neutral state to where they then decided whether or not to believe. Unfortunately, for this view, there is not one scrap of explicit teaching pointing us to this. It is a philosophical conclusion that doesn’t have its origins in the bible.
In closing, consider John 6:37-39
37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
What can we gather from these verses?
1. All those who the Father gives to Christ WILL come to Him.
2. Christ WILL NOT cast any of them away.
3. Christ came to do the Father’s will.
4. The Father’s will is that Christ not lose any who come to Him but RAISE them on the last day.
What can we conclude? That if the Father gave Christ everyone, then Christ has failed, because it is just a matter of plain observation that men are constantly dying in their sins.